Library Mice http://librarymice.com Reviews from a children's book enthusiast Tue, 22 Oct 2019 07:16:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.15 BLOG TOUR: “It’s a No-Money Day” by Kate Milner http://librarymice.com/blog-tour-its-a-no-money-day-by-kate-milner/ http://librarymice.com/blog-tour-its-a-no-money-day-by-kate-milner/#respond Tue, 22 Oct 2019 07:16:21 +0000 http://librarymice.com/?p=6789 I was lucky enough to interview Kate Milner two years ago when her first picturebook, My Name is Not Refugee, was published (see here) and I am delighted to be able to showcase Kate’s latest picturebook, It’s a No-Money Day (Barrington Stoke) today.
I kind of think of Kate as the Ken Loach of the picturebook world: the themes she chooses to focus on are tough and hard-hitting, and she never shies away from the reality of those situations, yet her storytelling is poignant and humane. It is not easy to talk about a subject such as poverty, hunger and the reality of food banks in twenty-first century Britain; Kate does this brilliantly and this book needs to be available in every school, everywhere, whether it is in deprived areas so children can see they are not alone, or privileged neighbourhoods so children can realise than no every one is quite as lucky.

 

As part of the blog tour, Kate has made a little video introducing the book for us:

 

***
Thank you so much Kate!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the mini-blog tour:

 

 

It’s a No-Money Day is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

 

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Five Fabulous Books About People (or Fish) Who Are in Big Trouble by Jon Agee http://librarymice.com/five-fabulous-books-about-people-or-fish-who-are-in-big-trouble-by-jon-agee/ http://librarymice.com/five-fabulous-books-about-people-or-fish-who-are-in-big-trouble-by-jon-agee/#respond Thu, 10 Oct 2019 07:04:57 +0000 http://librarymice.com/?p=6767 Today, some very lucky children in Ipswich will be taking part in an event with Jon Agee as part of the The Children’s Book Show.

Jon Agee is the author and illustrator of many acclaimed books for children, including ALA Notable Books Little SantaTerrificMilo’s Hat TrickNothingThe Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau, and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor winner It’s Only Stanley.  He is also the creator of a series of popular wordplay books, notably, the collection of palindromes: Go Hang a Salami! I’m a Lasagna Hog!  Two of his picturebooks have been published in the UK by Scallywag Press toronto how to get viagra viagra canadian pharmacy online this year, The Wall in the Middle of the Book, and Life on Mars.

 

 

The Wall in the Middle of the Book is endorsed by Amnesty International as a book that ‘celebrates freedom of movement and thought’, and it is to see why. With an ingenious use of the book gutter,the book offers a simple yet clever  take on many very current  themes such as making assumptions, the fear of strangers and the absurdity of creating walls, whether physical or ideological, as borders. It is seamlessly multi-layered, allowing the youngest readers to simply enjoy the silliness of the knight and of the left side of the wall while others will be left to ponder on the more covert themes.

 

In Life on Mars, a young astronaut  arrives on Mars determined to find life and prove to all that he is right. However things don’t go quite to plan for him. With a clever use of dramatic irony à la Rosie’s Walk , the visual slapstick humour will definitely tickle little readers while the slight sense of entitlement from the astronaut won’t be lost on the more astute reader.

 

Those are two brilliant picturebooks; funny, clever and a joy to read aloud!

I am so delighted to be welcoming Jon to Library Mice for our latest instalment of Fabulous Five:


Five Fabulous Books About People (or Fish)
Who Are in Big Trouble

by Jon Agee

 

Moon Man
Tomi Ungerer (1967)

The man in the moon, gazing down at human beings singing and dancing, decides to hitch a ride on a passing comet and visit Earth. He is not greeted kindly, and soon he is on the lam. Things look bleak until he stumbles upon an old castle, where he meets a long-forgotten scientist, who happens to be building a spacecraft to go to the moon. Tomi Ungerer is one of the great picture book creators of the 1970’s, and this is one of his best.

 

 
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
William Steig (1969)

This is a classic. A donkey is in trouble. He has accidentally turned himself into a rock, and there is no way he can turn back into a donkey unless somebody picks up a nearby magic pebble and wishes he was a donkey again. Improbable? Yes. But William Steig pulls off a story that is thrilling, deeply moving, and ultimately, a testament to the power of love.

 

 
John Patrick Norman McHennessy
John Burningham (1987)

John Patrick Norman McHennessy is in trouble. He’s late to school again. One morning he is delayed by a lion, the next by an alligator. The headmaster is irate. I’m a big fan of John Burningham books, even some of his more obscure efforts, like Aldo and Cloud People. JPNM is a favorite. It has that combination of Burningham’s understated text with the absurd goings-on, a surprising ending, and pictures that are, as usual, audacious and beguiling.

 

Meanwhile
Jules Feiffer (1997)

Raymond is in trouble. He has figured out a way to magically switch – or “meanwhile” – from his humdrum reality to a comic book world of pirates, cowboys and spaceships. Problem is, the new scenes he enters turn out to be wildly dangerous, and when Raymond tries to “meanwhile”, he can’t seem to get out of the loop. This was Jules Feiffer’s debut picture book, and I was impressed. He was already a legendary cartoonist, and “Meanwhile”, fittingly, is a beautiful tribute to the comic strip. The book is told is quasi comic book form, with seamless sequential images, a masterful interplay of text and talk balloons, and the pacing, right to the last word, is breathless.

 
This is Not My Hat
Jon Klassen (2012)

A little fish is in trouble, way more trouble than it imagines. I was a fan of this book from the very start, before it won all of its accolades. It features three distinct underwater characters, a forest of beautifully translucent seaweed, and a bold use of black for the sea. The relationship between the words and pictures is intentionally contradictory, creating tension and lots of laughs. It’s an elegant book to look at, and hilarious to read out loud.

****

Thank you so much Jon for such a wonderful selection!

The Wall in the Middle of the Book and Life on Mars are both out now and can be purchased here order xenical online pharmacy.

 

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BLOG TOUR: My Pet Star http://librarymice.com/blog-tour-my-pet-star/ http://librarymice.com/blog-tour-my-pet-star/#respond Thu, 22 Aug 2019 06:47:35 +0000 http://librarymice.com/?p=6753 Corrinne Averiss (text) & Rosalind Beardshaw (artwork)
(Orchard Books)

When a little girl finds a fallen star underneath a tree, she decides to nurse him back to health with kindness and care. The two become firm friends but Star doesn’t feel quite at home in the hut. So the little girl decides to do what is best for her friend…
This a gorgeous  story of friendship, caring for those who need us but also being able to do what is best for the people we love, even if it is hard. The rhyming text is melodic and succinct, making it a perfect bedtime story. The language oozes kindness and childhood wonder (“cosmic super-vet” being a favourite) and is a perfect match to Beardshaw’s lovely soft lines and comforting style. The colour palette in this book is wonderful, particularly the lovely night skies. Showing the Star is getting increasingly brighter as the girl cares for it is a great way to express empathy for the youngest readers. My Pet Star is a lovely addition to a preschooler’s library.

I am so delighted to welcome Rosalind to Library Mice, having been an admirer of her work for many years! Ros has illustrated many books for children. These include the award-winning Lulu series (Alanna Books) and the National Trust’s A Walk in the Countryside series (Nosy Crow). She lives in York with her family.

***

 

My favourite childhood reads
by Rosalind Beardshaw

 

My Pet Star was a dream for me to illustrate, I loved the story by Corrinne Averiss, on the first read. Straight away I felt excited, especially as I could create a whole little world for the girl and her star, full of the things I love. It was always the details from books that I read as a child that drew me in.
I used to visit my Dad every Saturday, on his shelves were some illustrated books I remember pouring over, time and time again.
Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs was one of them. Still to this day I revisit that book. I absolutely adore how Briggs put in so many details that made Father Christmas’s home so cosy, and that’s how I feel when I read it. I wanted the little girls world from My Pet Star to feel the same way.
Similarly, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs was another favourite from my Dad’s shelf. The love and care the boy has for the Snowman is so beautifully depicted. Inspired by this book, I wanted the girl and her Pet Star to have a similar bond, for there to be lots of warmth between them.
I was a massive fan of The Famous Five by Enid Blyton when I was young, as is my 8 year old daughter, Iris. We’re reread them (twice!) recently. I particularly loved Five Go Off in a Caravan in the series, and have always loved the idea of living in one, or a shepherd’s hut ever since. It seemed like a perfect place for the main character in My Pet Star to live, small, cosy and just the right size for her and her star…

 

 

***
Many thanks, Ros!

My Pet Star is out now and you can buy a copy here.
Follow the rest of the blog tour:

 

All illustrations © Rosalind Beardshaw

Source: review copy received from publisher

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BLOG TOUR: “A Planet Full of Plastic” by Neal Layton http://librarymice.com/blog-tour-a-planet-full-of-plastic-by-neal-layton/ http://librarymice.com/blog-tour-a-planet-full-of-plastic-by-neal-layton/#respond Fri, 28 Jun 2019 06:52:13 +0000 http://librarymice.com/?p=6735 In A Planet Full of Plastic (Wren & Rook) Neal Layton introduces children to the current and vital topic of plastic pollution. The book covers many topics within the theme, from the history of the creation of plastic, to biodegradation and to what we can do to reverse the problem. It is extremely informative, detailed yet simple enough for young audiences, and never preachy.  What works really well is the mixed media artwork; Layton uses photographs of plastic items in situ, so to speak, as part of the illustrations, creating spreads which are particularly impactful. This underwater spread, for example, is particularly effective:


Discovering the identity of the narrator at the end of the book is a lovely touch which children will really enjoy. This is an important book, which will work well both at home (for example following the creative ideas at the back of the book, including building one own’s greenhouse as detailed below) and at school as part of creating well-rounded, responsible citizens. A brilliant addition to bookshelves in both settings!

 

*****

Build Your Own Mini Greenhouse

 

To celebrate the publication of A Planet Full of Plastic – a brand new non-fiction picture book by author-illustrator Neal Layton, I’ll be telling you how to help your little ones get involved in reusing plastic bottles by helping them make their very own miniature greenhouse. Miniature greenhouses are a great use for plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in our rivers and seas and the excitement of watching their very own plants grow is an added bonus for children.

 

You will need:

  • Scissors
  • A large plastic bottle
  • Seeds
  • Compost
  • An old plastic container
  • A skewer

Method:

  1. Peel the label off the large plastic bottle, keep the cap on top of the bottle and cut it into two pieces around 4 inches from the bottle’s base.
  2. Poke 2-4 holes in the bottom of the bottle with a skewer for drainage.
  3. Wash both pieces of the bottle in warm and soapy water to ensure they are clean.
  4. Balance the bottom piece of the bottle in an old plastic container and fill half of it up with compost.
  5. Water the soil until it is evenly moist and empty the plastic container of any excess water that drips through.
  6. Place your seeds in a spread out arrangement on the damp compost and cover with more compost.
  7. Cut a small slit in the top half of the bottle and slip it over the bottom half as a ‘lid’, this will create a miniature greenhouse effect to help the seeds germinate.
  8. Remove the cap from the top of the bottle to allow some air circulation once the seed germinate.
  9. Once seedlings appear move the bottle to an area that receives 6-8 hours of sunlight daily.
  10. Water the seedlings when the soil surface dries, remove the top half of the bottle if it develops condensation or once the seedlings grow tall enough to touch it.

 

 

A Planet Full of Plastic by Neal Layton is published by Wren and Rook. You can buy the book here

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour:

 

Source: review copy sent by publisher

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Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise http://librarymice.com/why-you-should-read-childrens-books-even-though-you-are-so-old-and-wise/ http://librarymice.com/why-you-should-read-childrens-books-even-though-you-are-so-old-and-wise/#comments Sat, 15 Jun 2019 08:36:21 +0000 http://librarymice.com/?p=6722 Katherine Rundell
(Bloomsbury)

Fellow children’s literature appreciators have all experienced the following, when stepping out of their echo chambers: the slight bewilderment of others when they learn that you read children’s literature. That bewildered expression often turns to aghast when you confess that you have studied it, or worse, that you read /study picturebooks. Yes, yes, those people exist. Look beyond your Twitter feed for a minute and the reality of it punches square in the face. Alternatively you could read this article, if you dare. Admittedly it might be outdated (2001) but the misplaced snobbiness of it will bemuse you, or anger you, depending how your day is going. Anyway, Katherine Rundell is here to save us from yet another awkward conversation, because this  teeny tiny perfectly formed tome can easily be thrust into such people’s hands. She talks sense. A lot of sense. She writes beautifully ( this will come as no surprise to you  if you are a  children’s literature enthusiast), with real heart, about her own relationship with reading,  stories and writing, about the importance of libraries, but also about the history of children’s literature, the importance of fairy tales (she writes of them that they are “a way of tracing our cultural evolution”, which is splendidly put) and of course what it is that makes children’s literature so special:  its subversive nature, its cornucopia of hope, imagination and optimism, observing that “Children’s books say: the world is huge. They say: hope counts for something. They say: bravery will matter, love will matter.” (48) Life experiences might sometimes tell us otherwise, but in times of turmoil, it is worth being reminded of that. In the end, Rundell reminds us that stories are for everyone, and that what is important is that it talks to you, that you find yourself in them:

 

 

A perfect definition of the reading experience in a truly delightful and inspiring essay.

 

———

Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You are So Old and Wise is available exclusively in independent bookshops as part of Independent Bookshop Week, and will be on general release on 8th August.

 

 

Review copy kindly sent by the publisher on request

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Read for Empathy Blog Tour: Louise Greig http://librarymice.com/read-for-empathy-blog-tour-louise-greig/ http://librarymice.com/read-for-empathy-blog-tour-louise-greig/#respond Tue, 04 Jun 2019 07:07:19 +0000 http://librarymice.com/?p=6702

 

Today I am hosting the Read for Empathy blog tour, which celebrates books that help develop empathy, in the build-up to Empathy Day which takes place on June 11th. Empathy Day was founded in 2017 by not-for-profit EmpathyLab. It aims to drive a new empathy movement, inspired by research showing that humans are not born with a fixed quantity of empathy – it’s a skill we can learn. The profile of this now annual event has rocketed, fuelled by concerns about a growing societal empathy deficit. Young people are growing up amidst an increasingly divisive public discourse, with online lives which can limit face-to-face human connection and expose them to casual cruelty.
Empathy Day is a lightning rod for a new story-driven empathy movement.

 

I am delighted to welcome Louise Greig as part of the tour to talk about her picturebook Sweep, illustrated by Júlia Sardà, which is part of the 2019 Read for Empathy Guide.  Louise  lives in Aberdeen with her husband where she writes children’s picture books and poetry.  She loves nature, wildlife and words in equal measure. You can find her on Twitter

 

“Sweep”
by Louise Greig

 

Let’s start with a confession.  Sometimes in art a brush stroke or an idea results in a ‘happy coincidence’ with a serendipitous outcome beyond the artist’s or author’s original intention.  And so it was with Sweep.  It would be easy for me to take credit for the praise the book has received but, in reality, I only saw it as a simple story of a temper tantrum I hoped would resonate with readers.  In fact, it’s hardly a story at all – just a metaphor wrapped in a pile of leaves.

It was therefore a lovely surprise to discover the book was being used by teachers, parents and psychologists in many countries as a practical tool to help children recognise and deal with anger, anxiety and other difficult emotional issues.  The Picture Book Blogger summed it up nicely:  “Possibly one of the most deceptively simple, but also most powerfully executed books we’ve seen on handling, recognising and confronting overwhelming emotions”.   Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best!

 

 

Reading has long been recognised as a way of promoting empathy by allowing readers to explore the world far beyond their own realm of experience and so see and understand other peoples’ points of view.  This is important in the modern world where everything seems to be increasingly polarised with one side raging against the other, with apparently little attempt to understand why opposing views are held.  The middle ground seems to be disappearing, and with it, the notion of empathy.

Social research is often confusing and contradictory, especially in the mental health arena and, in particular, with respect to the impact of social media on young peoples’ lives.  However, it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to recognise social media’s potential for bullying, passive aggression and general dissatisfaction during a child’s formative years.  Furthermore, complex algorithms used by social media platforms intentionally match people with others with similar attitudes and interests thus giving individuals the impression their views are universal and alternative points of view wrong. This is confirmation bias on a wide scale and leads to a narrowing of outlook and more deeply entrenched beliefs.  Ultimately it promotes a lack of understanding, tolerance and compassion, which are the foundation stones of a civilised society.

I can’t claim that Sweep can solve the world’s ills but, in some small way, it may help promote empathy in children by providing them with an increased understanding of themselves and help them recognise entrenched and unhelpful behaviour when it occurs in others.  It may also provide them with the tools to break the cycle of anxiety and anger by demonstrating a better and happier way forward.  In this regard the key to Sweep’s success is the joyous resolution of Ed’s bad mood.  Just as it threatens to overwhelm everything and everyone, a gust of wind simply blows it away and happiness prevails!  Another confession – the original ending I intended was an all-enveloping catastrophe but my editor convinced me that might be too hard a lesson for young minds and fortunately persuaded me to change it to something more positive and uplifting.

With picture books the prevailing premise is always ‘show, don’t tell’ – words are only half the story.  Sweep owes much of its success to the wonderful detail and rich, witty illustrations by renowned artist Júlia Sardà, which bring the whole story to life.  The humour embedded in the illustrations is absolutely key to the success of the book – it’s hard to be angry while you’re laughing!

In terms of recommended reading for empathy I would suggest anything by Anthony Browne.  His books are always multi-layered, simple stories profound in meaning.  I particularly love Voices in the Park which is 20 years old now. It looks at four different perspectives of the same event.

 

 

 


 

***
Thank you so much, Louise for this lovely blog post!

 

 

You can buy a copy of Sweep here.

 

Do you want to curate your own booklist of Empathy-building books? This is the kind of thing you should be looking out for:

 

 

 

To support Empathy Day, you can:

* Join in the social media #ReadForEmpathy campaign across social media platforms

* Attend  The Empathy Conversation evening event with former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, poet Joseph Coelho and psychology expert Professor Robin Banerjee, Waterstone’s Piccadilly,  on 11th June at 7pm; tickers are available here

* Buy empathy books from local independent booksellers, and EmpathyLab’s whole empathy book collection for 26% off thanks to Peters Bookselling Services cialis sears pharmacy.

*Follow the blog tour of some of the authors and illustrators involved:

 

 

 

 

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Picture Book of the Week monthly recap: May 2019 http://librarymice.com/picture-book-of-the-week-monthly-recap-may-2019/ http://librarymice.com/picture-book-of-the-week-monthly-recap-may-2019/#comments Sun, 02 Jun 2019 07:38:59 +0000 http://librarymice.com/?p=6698 SEA: A World Beneath the Waves
Patricia Hegarty & Britta Teckentrup
(Little Tiger Press)

Following the huge success of  Tree, Bee and Moon, this wonderful creative duo are back with a new peek-through
picturebook focusing on the natural world, this time on the world underneath our seas. This is a fabulous theme to showcase Teckentrup’s talent. Her use of colour, texture and her ability to bring the natural world alive on the page in a way that is both meticulously detailed yet simple enough to be appealing to a very young audiences is second to none. The die-cuts and two  recurring little clown fish create a playful effect, and this is accompanied wonderfully by Hegarty’s rhyming text, making it a lovely read aloud. The message about conservation on the last page is beautifully done: subtle, engaging, and encouraging further conversations and action about pollution, it is the perfect way of ending a book celebrating one of Earth’s most fascinating yet most fragile natural habitats.

 

I Can’t Can Fly
Fifi Kuo
(Boxer Books)

Little Penguin wants to fly. He has wings after all, so why shouldn’t he? Despite everyone’s advice, Little Penguin is adamant he will keep trying; will his perseverance pay? Using a limited palette of blue and black with lots of white space, Kuo depicts the arctic environment and its inhabitants beautifully. It feels cold, and vast. The sketchy style, almost crayon-like, really helps brings Little Penguin’s surroundings to life, as does the use of lines, conveying movement wonderfully throughout. The use of space within the page, and going from lots of white background when on the bank to fully-coloured when underwater is so effective. The underwater spreads are truly amazing. The wordless spread of Little Penguin falling deep in the ocean is absolutely stunning, dark and dramatic, and astutely demonstrating  that emotions are often best expressed when there is little embellishment and plenty of space with the reader to think and feel.  Superb!

 

The Tide
Clare Helen Welsh & Ashling Lindsay
(Little Tiger Press)

This wonderful picturebook introduces us to a little girl and her grandfather, whose special relationship is sometimes put under strain because of the grandfather’s dementia. The story is told in first person by the little girl, and seen through the eyes of a child, readers are presented with a more raw and honest view of dementia, sometimes with a lack of understanding that young readers will recognise, but filled with emotion and innocence which makes it a particularly poignant read for adults.  The metaphor of the tide to explain the effect dementia has on people’s memories is beautiful, and this theme runs throughout, mirrored in the alternating moments of lucidity and absence from Grandad. The colours are warm and comforting; the spread of them dancing through the waves as the tide comes simply glows with warmth and love. Celebrating family love and support in what can be very dark times, this is a really special book.

 

The Suitcase
Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
(Nosy Crow)

The most powerful way to put a message across in a picturebook is not by what is being said but by what is left unsaid. You will struggle to find a recent picturebook that illustrates this better and more poignantly than “The Suitcase”. Simplicity both in the text and artwork convey the plea of displaced people and the importance of empathy in a way that is accessible to children. It is impossible not to be deeply moved as an adult when reading this text, with that one wordless spread like a punch in the gut.
The use of colour is wonderful, with each character given its own, including in the typography. Little readers will notice those colours match the newly-built home at the end. Lots of white space throughout gives the reader space to make connections and inferences and the only two spreads without any negative space show his old and new home, filling the page with warmth and contentment. Simply stunning!

 

 

 

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Picture Book of the Week monthly recap: April 2019 http://librarymice.com/picture-book-of-the-week-monthly-recap-april-2019/ http://librarymice.com/picture-book-of-the-week-monthly-recap-april-2019/#respond Tue, 07 May 2019 07:39:16 +0000 http://librarymice.com/?p=6690 Norm
Sylvia Liang
(Thames & Hudson)

Norm (short for Normal) lives in a world where everything is the same. Him and his friends go round with rules making sure everything is the right size, the right shape, etc. But when Norm across Odette (Odd for short), she introduces him to a whole different world, one where every one is different and enjoys life to the full. Norm soon realises that there is no such thing as ‘the norm’ and every one’s quirks is what makes them special. Beautiful, quirky artwork and a gentle narrative makes this début picturebooks a lovely story to delve into. The theme of challenging the norms is tactfully explored, while the book highlights there is no such thing as ‘normal’, it also conveys there is nothing worng with conformity and liking things just so (as many children do), as long as one stays open to other other possibilities, change, an a little bit of chaos too. This is a lovely inclusive message, in a overall delightful book.

 

B is for Baby
Atinuke & Angela Brooksbank
(Walker Books)

B is for Baby. B is for Brother, Bus, Bridge and Butterfly. The title of this glorious picturebook might fool readers into thinking at first that this is simply another ABC book, but oh no! Using the letter B as focus, the narrative describes a day in the life a toddler, from her morning routine to visiting her grandparents. Brookshank’s use of colour is superb, wonderfully reproducing the vibrancy of the local flora and fauna of  the village from an unspecified African country (though most likely to be Nigeria, the author’s home country). You can almost smell the Bougainvillea! Her scenery illustrations are incredibly detailed and movement bursts from the page, really bringing the simple text structure to life. The themes running through the narrative are universal, highlighting that while the backdrop might be different, children across the world have much in common. A wonderfully joyous picturebook!

 

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Five Fabulous Books that inspire me to look at the world in a different way by Fifi Kuo http://librarymice.com/five-fabulous-books-that-inspire-me-to-look-at-the-world-in-a-different-way-by-fifi-kuo/ http://librarymice.com/five-fabulous-books-that-inspire-me-to-look-at-the-world-in-a-different-way-by-fifi-kuo/#respond Thu, 11 Apr 2019 06:45:47 +0000 http://librarymice.com/?p=6667 Panda and Penguin live together and share everything, including the beloved tatty old sofa they love to sit on. They decide to go and buy a new one, but none feels quite right, and for good reasons.
Fifi Kuo’s  The Perfect Sofa (Boxer Books) is absolutely delightful; its succinct text is teamed with bold colourful double-spreads and together they create a quirky, fun tale with a cleverly observed and conveyed , child-friendly message about consumerism and throw-away attitude at its heart. There is just warmth and contentment radiating from the final spread, and this will undoubtedly spark discussions about appreciating belongings rather than always yearning for more.  The dynamics between the two characters is joyful and will delight little readers and make it a great, fun read aloud.

I am so happy to welcome Fifi to Library Mice for another fascinating Fabulous Five!


Five Fabulous Books that inspire me
to look at the world in a different way

by Fifi Kuo

 

 

I’ve always loved to draw and dream. I believe that pictures can tell stories that we cannot put into words. Together, words and pictures can help us see the world in a different way. Dreams can come alive. Problems can be resolved. Picture books can speak to us however old we are.

Here are five books that inspire me to look at the world in a different way

 

The Snowman
Raymond Briggs

I was five years old when my mother introduced me to The Snowman. I live in Taiwan, which has a tropical climate, and had never seen snow but immediately fell in love with this classic. At about this age I started to learn English but one of the good things about wordless books is that the story is told through the pictures. I loved the warmth of the friendship between the boy and his Snowman. I really wanted to fly and get a bird’s eye view of the world. I still do!

 

 

A Fish That Smiled at Me
Jimmy Liao

Jimmy Liao, also from Taiwan, is one of my favourite artists. He studied art at Chinese Culture University, and then he worked at an advertising agency as an editorial illustrator for many years. After surviving leukaemia in the 90s, Jimmy devoted himself to his art, and has since created about forty picture books which have sold millions of copies around the world. When I studied for an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art I realised that Jimmy is not well known in the UK.  I really admire the way he tells a story through text and drawings. Sometimes the stories are sad but still have some tiny warmth inside. He makes us realise that even when life is sad, lonely or tough there are still tiny joyful things to give us hope.

 

When The Moon Forgot
Jimmy Liao

I go to the Taipei International Books Exhibition every year especially to see him and to get his books signed. Sadly, some of my favourites, like A Fish That Smiled at Me, are not available in English but When The Moon Forgot was translated into English in 2009. In this story a young boy becomes close friends with the moon when he falls out of the sky. But without the moon in the sky things go wrong in the world and so the boy realises that he has to help the moon return to the sky even though this means that they have to part. I love the fanciful surreal illustrations.

 

A Chance of Sunshine
Jimmy Liao

 

It is really hard to limit myself to just three books by Jimmy Liao. His books are so beautiful. In A Chance of Sunshine he shows us that we do not know where destiny will lead us. This love story was turned into a film called Turn Left, Turn Right. In the book the characters are not given names only referred to as ‘him’ and ‘her’ and I think that this device makes us realise that the story could be about ourselves.

 

Duck, Death and the Tulip
Wolf Erlbruch

 

My thesis for my MA degree looked at the subject of death in Children’s Picture Books. This wonderful picture book, originally published in German, is unashamedly sentimental. Duck and a character called Death become friends and discuss, life, death and what any afterlife might be like. Their conversations are really charming. Of course, in the end duck dies and Death lays her gently in the water putting a tulip on her. Erlbruch shows us how picture books can deal with difficult subjects with sensitivity, warmth and humour. Like all the other books I’ve selected, this picture book is not just for children. I would like my books to be shared by people of all ages.

 

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Many thanks for this post Fifi and for introducing us to Jimmy Liao, his books look absolutely fascinating!

The Perfect Sofa is out today and you can purchase a copy here.

 

Source: review copy kindly provided by publisher

 

 

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Beatrice Blue presents five fabulous reads which have inspired her since childhood http://librarymice.com/beatrice-blue-presents-five-fabulous-reads-which-have-inspired-her-since-childhood/ http://librarymice.com/beatrice-blue-presents-five-fabulous-reads-which-have-inspired-her-since-childhood/#respond Tue, 09 Apr 2019 06:45:01 +0000 http://librarymice.com/?p=6656 Today is National Unicorn Day and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to introduce Beatrice Blue’s gorgeous début picturebook Once Upon a Unicorn Horn (Frances Lincoln), which is published as part of the First Editions list, which showcases new talents.

June lives with her parents in a magical forest and loves to go on adventures and discover treasures in the forest. When she comes across a herd of tiny magical horses who are learning to fly. All but one, who doesn’t seem to be able to and looks so very sad. June is desperate to help but seems unable to fix it. She goes home to ask for help, and with the support of  her mum and dad and  a perfectly timed and placed ice-cream cone, something truly magical happens.
Themes of kindness, perseverance and never being afraid to ask for help are threaded into this joyful tale full of magic, colour and happiness. Blue’s style is wonderful; some of the spreads are reminiscent of Mary Blair’s art for Little Golden Books, who also had a flair for magical child-centered illustrations. The magical creatures are adorable and as Once Upon a Unicorn Horn is the first title in a picture book series about how fantastical creatures got their magical features, there is plenty more to look forward to!

Click to view slideshow.

 

 

I am delighted to welcome Beatrice to Library Mice for a Fabulous Five special on books that have inspired her since childhood:


Five Fabulous Inspiring Reads 

by Beatrice Blue

 

I have always been fascinated with magic. The way some authors describe it and make it feel absolutely real makes me want to go on a thousand adventures every day. With Once Upon a Unicorn Horn my aim was to make readers feel the magic and want to go on adventures with me!  To make them go out and discover the unknown; and/or make the unknown happen. I want every reader to  appreciate how wonderful kids are, and all the amazing things they can discover. Here are 5 books that have inspired me every day since I was a child:

 

 Peter Pan
J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan is my absolute favourite book. The way it’s written is absolutely mesmerizing. It shows us how beautiful the kid’s mind is and all that there is to discover anywhere we go. It’s truly inspiring and I don’t lie when I say I could read it every day. It makes me miss home, love my childhood, enjoy every second I live and want to go on every possible adventure there is. Peter Pan should be in every book shelf of every home.

 

 

 

Harry Potter
J.K. Rowling

Of course, who doesn’t love Harry Potter and the way J.K Rowling developed a whole magical world surrounded by such amazement and wonder? I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the first time back in 1999. And my whole world spun. Magic was then suddenly more present forever in my life.

 

 

 

Neil Gaiman stories 

From Neverwhere, to  The Ocean at the End of the Lane and stopping basically on every single one of his short stories, Neil Gaiman has my entire heart. His way of seeing  the world seems absolutely fascinating to me, plus the way he writes and how delicious each story is makes him probably my favorite author.

 

 

 

 

 

Matilda
Roald Dahl

The magic of Roald Dahl is undescribable, we all know that. But this specific book stole my heart right away. It showed me how a regular girl like me could actually make her dream and her magic real. It also taught me how being patient under someone else’s rage, anger or bad attitude could make me more powerful every day. And how being good to others, sharing and caring can make magic more than real.

 

 

 

The Jungle Book
Rudyard Kipling

The way Kipling shows us the mind of the kid in the middle of the Jungle; his decisions, his adventures and the way Mowgli grows and learns throughout the book is mesmerizing. Mowgli, along with Baloo, Kaa, Shere Khan, and Bagheera, taught me how to be fearless and learn from every adventure I venture into. They also made me learn to be cautious and that every action has its consequences. I will treasure this book forever.

 

 

 

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Thank you so much Beatrice!

Once Upon a Unicorn Horn is out today and you can purchase it here.

 

Source: review copy kindly sent from publisher

 

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